CREAM OF WHEAT AND OLD SPICE

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Two days of drizzle. Not bad. I would prefer a good pouring, but I have to take what is given. At any rate, it’s a glorious grey, Mystere Gris day. The perfect kind of day for writing.

 

I am an American living in a third world country. An ex-pat they call it and I am not an ex-anything. Well, an ex-drinker. Anyway, living here and trying to exist like an American is complicated. I call it Amerikano living with a twist. There are a lot of limitations and many, many things that are just not available here.

 

Books are one thing that is rare to come across. (BTW I do accept old paperback book donations–mysteries and adventure. No romance. Literary and classics always welcome.) Not many people here actually read, and English isn’t their cup of joe. They have the most annoying expression when English is presented. They grab their face and scream “OH! English! I am getting a nose bleed!” They live under the impression that speaking English causes the nose to begin bleeding. I have been speaking English for more than 40 years and never once got a nose bleed. The peculiar thing is all of the important newspapers are in English. The road signs, advertisements, signs at the mall, t.v. shows, even a lot of radio stations. English English English. I go to buy medicine at the pharmacy and the tech makes a huge production about how she cannot understand English. But is very good at her job. All the medications, instructions and dosages and all the textbooks are in–yep you guessed it–ENGLISH.

 

So yesterday I got a good surprise. Another American I know just returned here from a few months stateside. He popped into my work for just a moment and gave me some goodies that he knew I was missing. A box of Cream of Wheat and a bottle of Old Spice aftershave. I couldn’t thank him enough.

 

There exists a certain camaraderie among the foreigners living here. No matter what you hear about The Philippines, I am here to tell you they are an extremely prejudiced and racist group of people. Not a day goes by that I am not ridiculed. My friend, too. Unless–unless you have a lot of money. Then they leave you alone. Then and only then are they nice to you and warm and friendly. As soon as they find out you aren’t ‘rich’ by their standards–well, they treat their dogs better. And they don’t treat their dogs very well.

 

Honestly though they think they are doing well. It’s all ego driven. they want the American lifestyle and line up to leave The Philippines, yet refuse to think like an American. You cannot live like an American and think like an American unless you adopt the American ideals. That’s what leads us Americans living here to kind of stick together. That and a good dose of English now and again.

 

We are a bunch of guys that wouldn’t normally mix back in the States. I mean take for instance my buddy, Doug. He is 70 years old, retired sailor. An airplane mechanic most of his life both private and for the US Navy. He is a big guy with a barrel of a belly and slicked back dirty grey hair that used to be blonde. And even at is age he has the kindest blue eyes I have ever seen on a guy. Now, taking all that into account and knowing me. We really couldn’t be more different in our likes and hobbies and even political and religious stances–BUT we have two common things that bind us–ENGLISH and the USA.

 

I am not talking USA the land, or the states or even the government. I am talking USA the ideology and the attitude of the American. “Get ‘er dun!’ as Larry the cable guy used to holler.

The main attitude here is “Do it for me or not at all. It’s too hard.” I can’t stand it.

 

Cream of Wheat. You know, I grew up on the stuff and I really got tired of it after awhile. Then after about a year here, I started looking for it. Not that I have the money to buy imported goods (hershey bars are imported here–very expensive. I accept donations on chocolate as well!) No Cream of Wheat. No grits. In fact, cereal is very limited here.Here they take rice from the night before–fry it up– or boil it with chocolate powder –and call THAT breakfast. No sir–I need my cereal. So at long last when Douglas, my American friend, told me he was going home for the holidays, I jumped on him right away. Cream of Wheat and Old Spice. There is no better after shave, in my humble opinion, than Old Spice. He returned two days ago and I am pleased as punch about it.

 

So I am going to sit here and wait for him to come by and chat. The skies are still gloomy. Makes me think of Akron. A bowl of cream of wheat and gloomy skies and I am a happy guy.

 Thank you and GoodNight

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